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parenthood

Breastfeeding Baby: Surviving The First Few Weeks

breastfeeding problems how to overcome them don't give up

As a mom of three, exclusively breastfed babies I will be the first to say that breastfeeding isn’t easy. I am blessed to be able to say that I have experienced those peaceful nursing sessions full of bliss but I’ve also experienced those painful, teary eyed nursing sessions where I wondered if I was going to be able to get through it.

Yes, there have been some really tough times.

I’ll give you a little background on my breastfeeding journey. I have three little ones. A 4 year old who was breastfed until 14 months. She weaned at 14 months because her baby sister was born. I was preparing myself to tandem nurse but once she saw her baby sis on the boob she no longer had the desire to nurse. 🙁

Baby sis was nursed until 21 months then we took 2 years off before welcoming our last baby, a boy this time Lennon, who I have been happily nursing for going on a year now.

I say happily nursing but it wasn’t always this way.

breastfeeding problems how to overcome them don't give up

The first few weeks of nursing can be the hardest.

I don’t think anyone ever told me that but I wished that they had. I feel like a lot of moms quit during the first few weeks of nursing because it can be really difficult and they sorta feel like maybe they just aren’t doing it right and wonder if that’s just the way it is. But it’s not. The first few weeks are hard.

I didn’t realize just how difficult it could get until our last baby. The first two were pretty easy. They learned to latch pretty quickly and since I was at home I didn’t have to worry about pumping. Since I was still nursing our first when our second baby was born, she was fortunate enough to come into the world with mom’s milk in abundance. There was no waiting for milk, it was waiting for her!

Then came our third…

Everything has been just more difficult with him. He’s just been throwing curve balls at us since he was born.

Breastfeeding him was hard at first.

It was painful.

I was discouraged.

At one point I had the teary eyes and thoughts about quitting.

I had thoughts about quitting and starting to formula feed with a bottle, something that didn’t even cross my mind with our first two. But then came the feelings of guilt. I felt like if I were to quit that I would be letting him down in a way. How could I quit on him when I didn’t on his sisters. I felt guilty for even thinking it. But it was just too hard.

I am going to tell you the difficulties we had and ways we overcame it in case you might be feeling those same things.

5 Breastfeeding Problems and Ways I Solved Them

Not latching

My first time trying to feed Lennon was downright discouraging. After having 0 problems with my first two babies latching now suddenly I had a baby who just wouldn’t latch on.

The only way to solve this problem is to just keep trying. Try not to get stressed or frustrated. Bring the baby close to you, do skin-to-skin contact every chance you get. Keep baby close to you and let his instincts kick in. Keeping baby close, calm and relaxed can help him learn to latch. Try not to stress because the baby will sense it too.

Latching pain

I had NEVER felt this type of pain with my first two. To use the word excruciating and breastfeeding in one sentence just didn’t make sense to me because I never had pain with my first two. But I realized pretty quickly that not all babies are made the same! Some babies need some time to learn to latch in a way that’s both comfortable to both mom and baby. Once he started to latch he was more aggressive at the breast than my first two.

To solve this problem we tried different positions to find what worked for us. On my right breast the side position was the least painful, but on my left breast we had to switch to the football hold.

I will be honest and say that the first few weeks I had serious doubts that I would be able to continue to breastfeed him because of the pain. But after a few weeks of dealing with it, trying different positions and ultimately had him latch on comfortably, the pain finally went away and our nursing sessions are now pain free and continue to be one of my favorite parts of motherhood.

Overactive Letdown

The letdown is such a strange feeling, in fact I had no idea what this was until months into breastfeeding my first. For the first few months of nursing Lennon I had what I now know as an overactive letdown. I didn’t know why at first but he would choke and gag a few minutes into our nursing sessions.

Overactive letdown means that your milk is coming pretty strong and can be forceful causing the baby to choke while nursing. If you are experiencing an overactive letdown you might also notice that the baby pulls away to get a breath in while nursing. The baby might also be squirmy and look uncomfortable.

Having an overactive letdown means that you have an oversupply of milk. When baby is first born your body is still adjusting to the needs of your baby. Over time, this will fix itself, however you can do a couple of things to help until then.

The first is to elevate baby so that the milk won’t go straight down his throat. You can do this by experimenting with different positions that is both comfortable for both you and the baby. The easiest thing to do is to hold baby in an upright position, as if he is sitting on your lap.

The next thing you can do is nurse your baby until you feel the letdown. Once you feel the milk letdown, pull baby off and catch the milk in a towel until you see the milk flow slow, then put baby back on the breast.

Milk blister

Never had it with my first two but suddenly there’s a tiny white spot on my right nipple and my breast hurts so bad! This is called a milk blister. The pain went all the way up to the top of my breast and I had no idea what was causing it at first. A milk blister is basically a milk duct that gets clogged because skin has grown over the duct in the nipple. OW!

To clear up a milk blister use a warm towel and apply pressure. I used a wet warm towel and massaged it a bit and then also massaged the top of my breast where I had pain and the blister cleared up within minutes. I couldn’t believe how quickly it disappeared and was kicking myself that I had lived with the pain for days without trying anything.

Nursing from one breast only

Lennon has nursed from one breast almost exclusively for the past year. This is similar to what happened with my second baby at around 18 months. There have been a few nights where I try to get him to nurse from the left side versus his favorite right side but he realizes pretty quickly and wakes up and cries for his favorite side.

I haven’t been able to solve this problem and I have been told by his pediatrician, that since he has been off the charts in weight and height since he was born, that nursing from one breast is NOT a problem. The only issue with this is really a vanity issue. All or most of your milk is being made by only one breast so you will be obviously lopsided – but I can live with that!

Final Thoughts

One thing that I realized from my journey is that not all babies are the same! Just because I had it easy with my first two did not mean it was going to be just as easy with our third.

A few things to keep in mind when trying to breastfeed your newborn baby….

Try to remain calm and stress-free. Babies will pickup on this.

Keep your baby close at all times. Skin-to-skin contact is best whenever possible.

Keep trying. Even when it feels like you’re at your absolute witts end, take a break but don’t give up right away.

Get the book The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding. It’s such a great resource for nursing moms and moms-to-be!

 

How I breastfed for over 2 years

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3 Comments

  • Reply
    Meredith Comer
    July 10, 2017 at 1:33 pm

    GREAT BREASTFEEDING ADVICE!! As a lactation consultant and nurse I see so much poor advice online , your article is spot on, (surviving bf the first weeks ).. thanks so much for sharing ! Nice work!

  • Reply
    Jules
    July 31, 2017 at 11:51 pm

    Thank you for the helpful posting. It helps me feel what I am experiencing is normal and that breast-feeding is not that easy as everyone paints it to be. It’s been motivating to push on.

  • Reply
    Brittany
    April 10, 2018 at 7:12 pm

    Thank you for this post! First time mom and my son is just a few days old. I wouldn’t say things aren’t going well but it’s been kind of a shock to see how HARD it is. It’s good to know that it will be get better, and hopefully be a more enjoyable time with my new babe.

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